Here are some highlights from the latest Boston City Council meeting held on Wednesday, February 6th:
Pot Shops. City Councilor Kim Janey filed an ordinance to promote and encourage equity in the new and booming marijuana industry. She’s hoping for full participation of residents from neighborhoods that been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. This ordinance would create a new category of equity applicants, which would include companies with 51% or more ownership stake from
1) a person who has resided in an area of disproportionate impact for at least 5 of the past 10 years,
2) a Boston resident who has a past conviction for possession, sale, or trafficking of marijuana (or his/her child or spouse)
3) someone who has resided in Boston for at least the past 5 years
4) someone who is of Black, African American, Hispanic, or Latino descent,
5) someone whose annual household income is below 400% of the federal poverty level. To date, no certified minority-owned businesses have been licensed by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. You can read more about it here!
From two to four terms. Councilor Andrea Campbell filed a home-rule petition to increase the term of city councilors from two years to four years. Councilor Campbell believes that having an election every two years costs too much – up to $800K. Some of the benefits listed by proponents include saving money, allowing councilors to focus more on their job and less on campaigning, and counterbalance the term the mayor.
Speaking of elections, Councilor Campbell also filed a home-rule petition to change the process for an open seat for City Councilor At-large. Currently, the fifth place finisher in the last election fills the seat i.e. Althea Garrison. Instead, a special election would be held.
Charlie Cards. In response to the MBTA’s plan to raise fares, Campbell filed a letter in support of increasing access to Charlie Card pickup and adopt a new automatic, cashless fare collection system. She’d like to the City of Boston parter with the MBTA where residents can pick up cards at City Hal in effort to increase residents’ access to Charlie Cards. Speaking of the MBTA rate increase, City Councilor Michelle Wu wrote an op-ed piece for the Globe that you can read here
Vacant lots. Councilors Campbell, O’Malley, and Janey refiled a hearing order to discuss strategies to reduce and activate vacant residential properties in Boston. Currently there are roughly 1,251 city-owned vacant lots. There is limited info and no central database to indicate how many vacant properties in the city are privately owned. The hearing is hoping to fix all this.
On Friday, February 8th at 11am, a working hearing will take place on issues related to stray voltage.
During the Wednesday, January 3oth City Council session, Boston City Councilor At-Large Michael F. Flaherty and Boston City Councilor of District 2 filed a hearing order to discuss the halting of the Article 80 process as it applies to 776 Summer Street (historically known as the Edison Power Plant). The hearing order was signed on to by Councilor Lydia Edwards, Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, Councilor Althea Garrison, Councilor Kim Janey, Councilor Tim McCarthy, and Councilor Michelle Wu. The matter has been assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.